Dragon Attached to Station, Returns to Earth in January

Dec. 8, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are attached at the space station including the U.S. resupply ships Northrop Grumman Cygnus and the SpaceX Dragon; and Russia’s Progress 70 and 71 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-09 and MS-10 crew ships all from Roscosmos.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 10:36 a.m. EST.

The 16th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,600 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory. Among the research it will bring to station, science investigations and technology demonstrations aboard Dragon include:

The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) will provide high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat. GEDI will be mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module’s Exposed Facility and provide the first high-resolution observations of forest vertical structure at a global scale. These observations will quantify the aboveground carbon stored in vegetation and changes that result from vegetation disturbance and recovery, the potential for forests to sequester carbon in the future, and habitat structure and its influence on habitat quality and biodiversity.

A small satellite deployment mechanism, called SlingShot, will be ride up in Dragon and then be installed in a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft prior to its departure from the space station. SlingShot can accommodate as many as 18 CubeSats of any format. After the Cygnus cargo ship departs from station, the spacecraft navigates to an altitude of 280 to 310 miles (an orbit higher than that of the space station) to deploy the satellites.

Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM3) will demonstrate the first transfer and long-term storage of liquid methane, a cryogenic fluid, in microgravity. The ability to replenish and store cryogenic fluids, which can function as a fuel or coolant, will help enable long duration journeys to destinations, such as the Moon and Mars.

Growth of Large, Perfect Protein Crystals for Neutron Crystallography (Perfect Crystals) crystallizes an antioxidant protein found inside the human body to analyze its shape. This research may shed light on how the protein helps protect the human body from ionizing radiation and oxidants created as a byproduct of metabolism. For best results, analysis requires large crystals with minimal imperfections, which are more easily produced in the microgravity environment of the space station.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2019 and return to Earth with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon in the Grips of Robotic Arm, Installation Occurs Next

SpaceX Dragon Capture
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is moments way from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

While the International Space Station was traveling about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean north of Papua New Guinea, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, captured the Dragon spacecraft at 7:21 a.m. EST using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Wednesday, Dec 5 with more than 5,600 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The International Space Station is an accessible space laboratory with unparalleled capability that is increasing knowledge of engineering and physical sciences, biology, the Earth, and the universe through research and technology demonstrations and providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA’s human research is closing the gaps in current scientific understanding of how best to predict, assess, and solve the problems that humans encounter while living and working in space, and extend that knowledge to protect the women and men who will go forward to the Moon and Mars.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon and Spacewalk Preps as New Crew Adapts to Space

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in July of 2018
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in July of 2018 approaching the International Space Station as both spacecraft were orbiting over the Greek island of Crete.

A Dragon is chasing the International Space Station today to be gracefully captured by a robotic arm early Saturday. The expanded Expedition 57 crew prepared for Dragon’s arrival while conducting science, spacesuit checks and a variety of other station activities.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft has been orbiting Earth for one day now carrying over 5,600 pounds of science, supplies and hardware for the crew. It is due to arrive Saturday around 6 a.m. when astronauts Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon. The duo along with new Flight Engineer Anne McClain trained today for Dragon’s approach and rendezvous.

Gerst later worked on U.S. spacesuit maintenance cleaning their cooling loops. Serena worked on a cement study inside the orbital lab that could inform the construction of future lunar or Martian habitats.

McClain is getting used to her new home in space with fellow Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques who have been onboard the station since Monday. This is Kononenko’s fourth stint at the station and he is unpacking the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft that launched him and his crew to space. McClain and Saint-Jacques are first-time space residents and they worked on a visual perception and orientation study today. The duo also packed up biology research gear that will be stowed in Dragon for return to Earth after it arrives on Saturday.

Kononenko also joined Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev to ready a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits for a spacewalk on Dec. 11. The duo will inspect the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship that will return Prokopyev, Gerst and Serena back to Earth Dec. 19 U.S. time.

Dragon Launch Slips One Day as New Crew Moves In

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst
Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) peers out the International Space Station’s “window to the world,” the seven-windowed cupola. Just outside the cupola are two spacecraft including the Soyuz MS-09 crew craft and Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft with one of its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays featuring prominently in the frame.

The launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo vessel slipped one day to Wednesday at 1:16 p.m. EST with meteorologists forecasting 90% favorable weather for launch. Meanwhile, the newest crew members aboard the International Space Station are getting used to their new home in space.

Dragon’s 16th mission to the orbital lab will deliver almost 5,700 pounds of science, crew supplies and hardware. The commercial space freighter is due to arrive at the station Saturday when astronauts Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon around 6 a.m.

New station crew members Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are in their second day aboard the station. The trio are familiarizing themselves with station systems and safety procedures today. They began their mission Monday when they launched aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft at 6:31 a.m. and docked just six hours and two minutes later to the Poisk module. The new crew will stay in space until June.

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst is getting for his return to Earth on Dec. 20 and began packing his personal items today. He’ll wrap up his mission with Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev and land in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship after six-and-a-half months in space.

Expedition 57 Crew Aboard Station Expands to Six

The six-member Expedition 57 crew
The six-member Expedition 57 crew (from left) Serena Auñón-Chancellor, David Saint-Jacques, Alexander Gerst, Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and Sergey Prokopyev gather for a portrait.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos joined Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 2:37 p.m. EST.

The arrival briefly restores the station’s crew complement to six until Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev return to Earth Dec. 20. Expedition 58 officially begins once the three departing spacefarers undock from the space station.

McClain, Saint-Jacques and Konenenko will spend more than six months conducting hundreds of science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. Some of the investigations they will conduct are sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory on the space station, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth. Highlights of upcoming investigations include experiments in forest observation, robotic refueling, and satellite deployment.

The crew is scheduled to be onboard during the first test flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil.

In March, the station will again return to a full complement of six crew members when they are joined for Expedition 59 by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.

This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Exp 58 Trio Docks to Station Six Hours After Launch Today

Soyuz Spacecraft Socks
The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying the Expedition 58 crew is pictured less than 20 meters from its docking port at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 12:33 p.m. EST while both spacecraft were flying about 251 miles over the Atlantic Ocean.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Watch the hatch opening targeted for 2:35 p.m. and welcome ceremony to follow live on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 1:45 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Spacewalk Preps and Muscle Research Keep Crew Busy

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor researches the complex process of cement solidification in space. Results may impact possible construction processes and designs for space habitats on the surface of the Moon and Mars.

A Russian spacewalk is planned before three Expedition 57 crew members return to Earth aboard a Soyuz spacecraft just before Christmas. Meanwhile, in the middle of the spacewalk and departure preparations, the International Space Station residents today also explored how living in space impacts the human muscle system.

Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev will work outside the space station Dec. 11 to inspect the Soyuz MS-09 crew vessel. The Russian spacewalker will join veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko for a scheduled 6-hour inspection on the outside of the spaceship that will return the Expedition 57 crew home Dec. 19 U.S. time.

Prokopyev checked the Orlan spacesuits today that he and Kononenko will wear during the eighth spacewalk of the year. Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor assisted Prokopyev checking the Russian spacesuits for leaks.

Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor then moved on to a study that has been ongoing aboard the orbital lab since September of 2017 observing how muscles adapt to outer space. The duo set up the Columbus lab module for research operations and scanned their head and foot muscles with an ultrasound device. The data may help doctors improve fitness in space and develop treatments for muscle and aging problems on Earth.

Back on Earth, on opposite sides of the globe, a pair of rockets are getting ready to send a new crew and more science and supplies to the space station. Russia’s Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft will launch Kononenko and fellow crew members Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques from Kazakhstan to the station on Monday at 6:31 a.m. EST. The following day at 1:38 p.m. in Florida, the SpaceX Dragon will blast off to the station to deliver more than 5,600 pounds of cargo to resupply the station residents.

Station Crews Ramping Up for Busy December

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor is pictured in the Japanese Kibo lab module mixing protein crystal samples to help scientists understand how they work.

December is shaping up to be a heavy traffic period at the International Space Station. Two crews will swap places before Christmas and a U.S. spaceship will deliver new supplies and science. A Russian spacewalk is also planned for a crew vehicle inspection.

The Expedition 57 crew onboard the station today continued preparing for the upcoming missions while researching space science. Commander Alexander Gerst cleaned cooling loops in U.S. spacesuits as Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev prepared the Soyuz MS-09 crew vessel for next month’s undocking. Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor worked on commercial science gear, semiconductor crystal observations and space gardening.

Monday and Tuesday are launch days for a new crew and a cargo delivery. Two new astronauts and a veteran cosmonaut are set to blast off first on Monday at 6:31 a.m. EST aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft. Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko flanked by new Expedition 58 Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will dock to the station’s Poisk module just six hours and five minutes later.

The very next day, the SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply ship will launch on its 16th mission to the orbital laboratory with a variety of new science experiments at 1:38 p.m. Dragon will orbit Earth for two days before reaching a point about 10 meters from the station where it will be captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Following those two critical arrivals at the orbital laboratory, cosmonauts Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko will exit the station for the third Russian spacewalk of the year on Dec. 11. The duo will wear their Orlan spacesuits for about six hours of inspection work on the Soyuz MS-09 crew craft docked to the Rassvet module.

After the vehicle inspection, the Soyuz MS-09 will return to Earth Dec. 20 bringing home the Expedition 57 crew after six and a half months in space. Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst will sit on either side of Soyuz Commander Prokopyev as he leads the trio to a parachuted landing in Kazakhstan at 12:03 a.m.

Russian, U.S. Spaceships Get Ready for Launch Ahead of Spacewalk

In Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 58 crew members
In Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 58 crew members (from left) Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques pose for pictures Nov. 27 as part of traditional pre-launch activities.

In a replay similar to the weekend before Thanksgiving, two rockets on the opposite sides of the world are poised to launch one day after another to replenish the International Space Station with a new crew and cargo.

Three new Expedition 58 crew members are preparing to blast off to the space station on a Russian Soyuz crew ship early next week. The following day, SpaceX will launch its Dragon cargo craft to the orbital lab atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

New astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques with veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko will take a six-hour ride to the station on Monday Dec. 3. The trio will lift off inside their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft at 6:31 a.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. About six hours later they will reach their new home in space and dock to the Poisk module beginning a six-and-a-half-month mission.

The SpaceX Dragon is targeted to begin its ascent to space from the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 4. Dragon will orbit Earth for two days loaded with new science before it is captured with the station’s Canadarm2 and installed to the Harmony module.

Back in space, three Expedition 57 crew members are getting ready for the arrival of both spacecraft while staying focused on microgravity science and spacewalk preparations.

Commander Alexander Gerst and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor trained for next week’s Dragon rendezvous and capture on a computer today. The duo also continued working on more life science and physics research. Gerst once again studied how protein crystals impact Parkinson’s disease to possibly improve treatments on Earth. Serena researched how cement hardens in space and continued setting up hardware for a semiconductor crystal experiment.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev is configuring the station’s Russian segment for a spacewalk targeted for Dec. 11. He and Kononenko will inspect the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module before the Expedition 57 trio returns to Earth on Dec. 20.

Human Research in Space; Next Crew Preps for Launch on Earth

Expedition 58 crew members in front of their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft
Expedition 58 crew members (from left) Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques pose Nov. 20 in front of their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft during a vehicle fit check.

The Expedition 57 crew aboard the International Space Station conducted human research and space physics today while maintaining life support systems. The space trio also continued U.S. and Russian cargo operations as another crew on Earth prepared for its launch early next week.

Commander Alexander Gerst started his day with astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and scanned her eyes with an ultrasound device helping doctors understand how microgravity impacts vision. Gerst then observed protein crystals associated with Parkinson’s disease to help improve treatments on Earth. Auñón-Chancellor jotted down her space experiences for a psychological study then set up hardware for a semiconductor crystal experiment.

Gerst also gathered items to be packed inside the next SpaceX Dragon cargo vessel due to launch Dec. 4 and arrive at the station for capture Dec. 6. Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev transferred fluids for disposal aboard the Russian Progress 70 cargo craft which will depart from the Pirs docking compartment Jan. 25.

Back on Earth in Kazakhstan, three Expedition 58 crew members are in their final week of mission preparations before beginning a six-and-a-half-month mission aboard the orbital lab. Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will join Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko for a six-hour ride aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft to the station. The new trio will launch Dec. 3 at 6:31 a.m. EST and dock to the Poisk module at 11:36 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast live the launch, docking and crew greeting.